For Two Wells Equestrian and Pony Club member Veronica Betts, the Pinery fire nearly took her best animal friend – her horse Cheyanne.
Caught in the blaze at her Barabba property near Hamley Bridge, Cheyanne and another of Veronica’s horses, Brandy, went through at least two fences in their panic to get away from the flames.
Veronica was stuck at Roseworthy due to the many road closures and was unable to get home to help her beloved horses.
Once the fire had passed through the property -thankfully leaving the house and sheds intact – Veronica’s neighbour rushed the horses to the Roseworthy vet clinic.
They were the first horses there and suffered bad burns to their faces and chest as well as cuts on the legs and burnt tails and
“They were in a serious condition,” Veronica explained.
“We had to put ice bags on their hooves to cool them off, so they wouldn’t get laminitis, and treat their smoke inhalation.”
Despite all their efforts, sadly three days later Brandy succumbed to her injuries and had to be put to sleep.
“It was touch and go for Cheyanne for about a week also,” Veronica said. “She was not eating, got colic and dropped weight.
“She would only eat carrots (but) after seeing her everyday and giving her carrots, she eventually ate more than just carrots.
“Her recovery only went up from there.”
Four weeks later Cheyanne was well enough to head home, where she had to endure daily bandage changes and a special rug to keep the flies off her.
Three months after the fires Veronica took Cheyanne to Semaphore beach to swim in the healing salt water and another month later, she was amazingly able to compete in her first show at the TWE&PC Gymkhana with young friend Neveah on board doing a few small hack classes.
Veronica and Cheyanne later took part in their first real competition since the fire, the Lower North Zone Pony Club Championships, which was held at Gawler River – and the pair was selected to represent their zone for the state competition at Naracoorte in October.
They helped their team to finish 2nd overall.
Veronica says the journey over the past 12 months has had many ups and downs and Cheyanne still has a little way to go but the road ahead is bright.